Conservtive health plans respect patients sensitive data

Glyn Wintle, 01 January 1970

The hoo-ha surrounding this week's announcement of Tory plans for the NHS IT project begins to look rather misplaced once you actually read their report. The media’s over-emphasis on the role Google or Microsoft might play in future provision of the electronic patient record shows that we persist in understanding state service provision using the defunct paradigm of public versus private. It is only if we adopt a new paradigm - that of centralised versus decentralised information management and service organisation - that we will be equipped to critique the Tories' plans in any detail.

The nearly 200-page report that spurred the headlines was commissioned by shadow health secretary Stephen O'Brien, and overseen by the former British Computer Society Health Informatics forum chair, Dr Glyn Hayes. Its references to the participation of Google, Microsoft and other commercial information service providers take place in a short, two page section. The mention is designed to illustrate the potential of a much larger reform - that of decentralising the provision of the electronic patient record and other information services - to lead to the twin goods of cost reduction and patient-centred care. It does not wed the British citizenry to relinquishing its medical secrets to Silicon Valley. Quite the opposite - it has the potential to give power over sensitive medical data back to the people who have traditionally been that data's custodians - practitioners and patients....

Source: Becky Hogge former executive director of ORG (We miss you Becky)

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